Central African Republic ex-strongman charged with crimes against humanity

Abdoulaye Hissene, an ex-leader of the FPRC (Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central African Republic) armed group, reads a report on the breaches of the Khartoum agreements by armed groups, in Bangui, on August 23, 2019 [Florent Vergnes/AFP]

The United Nations-backed court in Bangui is handling cases concerning war crimes and crimes against humanity, dating back to 2003.

A United Nations-backed court in the Central African Republic said it had charged ex-rebel leader Abdoulaye Hissene with crimes against humanity and war crimes on Thursday.

One of the poorest countries in the world, the CAR was plunged into a bloody sectarian conflict after Seleka rebels, a coalition of armed groups mainly composed of Muslims, removed President Francois Bozize in early 2013.

The Special Criminal Court (SCC) handles cases concerning war crimes and crimes against humanity dating back to 2003.

Hissene, ex-military chief of the FPRC faction of the former Seleka rebellion, has been held in detention after he was arrested on Monday, an SCC source said on condition of anonymity.

In 2022, he announced his departure from the armed movement during reconciliation talks initiated by President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

The court said it had charged Hissene with “several crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on the territory of the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2017, in his capacity as leader” of the FRPC.

Since 2017, he has faced United Nations sanctions for his involvement in “acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of the CAR”.

He also faced sanctions for “attacks against UN missions or international security presences, including MINUSCA, the European Union Missions and French operations which support them,” the UN has said.

It has also pointed to the FRPC leader’s links with ex-rebel group leader Maxime Mokom.

Mokom’s armed groups, which called themselves “anti-Balaka” – meaning “anti-machete” – were formed in reaction to the takeover of the capital, Bangui, by the Seleka.

He faces 20 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for atrocities committed against Muslim civilians in the CAR, a former French colony, by his self-proclaimed self-defence militias in 2013 and 2014.

The charges against Mokom, brought before the International Criminal Court, included directing attacks against civilians, murder, rape, pillaging and destruction of property, as well as attacks against religious buildings including mosques.



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